Laws of the Game (1882)

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For works with similar titles, see Laws of the Game.

The Laws of the Game[edit]

1. The limits of the ground shall be: maximum length, 200 yds.; minimum length, 100 yards; maximum breadth, 100 yards, minimum breadth, 50 yards. The length and breadth shall be marked off with flags; and the goals shall be upright posts, 8 yards apart, with a tape or bar across them, 8 feet from the ground.

2. The winners of the toss shall have the option of kick off or choice of goals. The game shall be commenced by a place-kick from the centre of the ground; the other side shall not approach within ten yards of the ball until it is kicked off, nor shall any player on either side pass the centre of the ground in the direction of his opponents' goal until the ball is kicked off.

3. Ends shall only be changed at half time. After a goal is won the losing side shall kick-off, but after the change of ends at half-time the ball shall be kicked off by the opposite side from that which originally did so; and always as provided in Law 2.

4. A goal shall be won when the ball has passed between the goal-posts under the tape or bar, not being thrown, knocked on nor carried by anyone of the attacking side. When any player other than the goal-keeper wilfully stops a ball in the vicinity of his own goal by using his hands, when, in the opinion of the umpires or referee, the ball would have passed through the goal, a goal shall be scored to his opponents. The ball hitting the goal, or boundary posts, or goal bar, or tape, and rebounding into play, is considered in play. N.B. — The umpires or referee must be of the opinion that the goal-keeper could not have stopped the ball before allowing a goal.

5. When the ball is in touch, a player of the opposite side to that which kicked it out, shall throw it from the point on the boundary line where it left the ground, in any direction the thrower may choose. The ball must be thrown in at least six yards, and shall be in play when thrown in, but the player throwing it in shall not play it until it has been played by another player.

6. When a player kicks the ball, or it is thrown out of touch, anyone of the same side who at such moment of kicking or throwing is nearer to the opponents' goal line, is out of play, and may not touch the ball himself, nor in any way whatever prevent any other player from doing so until the ball has been played, unless there are at such moment of kicking or throwing at least three of his opponents nearer their own goal line; but no player is out of play when the ball is kicked from the goal line, or when it has last been played by an opponent.

7. When the ball is kicked behind the goal line by one of the opposite side, it shall be kicked off by any one of the players behind whose goal line it went, within six yards of the nearest goal post; but if kicked behind by any one of the side whose goal line it is, a player of the opposite side shall kick it from within one yard of the nearest corner flag-post. In either case no other player shall be allowed within six yards of the ball until it is kicked off.

8. No player shall carry or knock on the ball, and handling the ball, under any pretence whatever, shall be prohibited, except in the case of the goal-keeper, who shall be allowed to use his hands in defence of his goal, either by knocking on or throwing, but shall not carry the ball. The goal-keeper may be changed during the game, but not more than one player shall act as goal-keeper at the same time, and no second player shall step in and act during any period in which the regular goal-keeper may have vacated his position.

9. Neither tripping nor hacking shall be allowed, and no player shall use his hands to hold or push his adversary, nor charge him from behind. A player with his back towards his opponents' goal cannot claim the privilege of rule 9 when charged behind.

10. No player shall wear any nails, except such as have their heads driven in flush with the leather, iron plates, or gutta-percha, on the soles or heels of his boots, or on his shin guards.

11. In the event of any infringement of Rules 5, 6, 8, or 9, 12, or 14, a free kick shall be forfeited to the opposite side from the spot where the infringement took place.

12. In no case shall a goal be scored from any free kick, nor shall the ball be again played by the kicker until it has been played by another player. The kick-off and corner-flag kick shall be free kicks within the meaning of this rule.

13. In the event of a supposed infringement of Rules 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, or 14, the ball shall be in play until the decision of the umpires or referee, on his being appealed to, shall have been given.

14. No player shall charge his opponent by leaping upon him.

15. By mutual arrangement of the competing clubs in matches a referee shall be appointed, whose duties will be to decide in all cases of dispute between the umpires. He shall also keep a record of the game, and act as timekeeper, and in the event of ungentlemanly behaviour on the part of any of the contestants, the offender or offenders shall, in the presence of the umpires, be cautioned, and in the case of violent conduct, the referee shall have power to rule the offending player or players out of play, and to order him or them off the ground, transmitting name or names to the committee of the Association under whose rules the game was played, and in whom shall be solely vested the right of accepting an apology.

16. The referee shall have power to stop the game in the event of spectators interfering with the play.

Definition of Terms[edit]

A Place Kick is a kick at the ball while on the ground, in any position in which the kicker may choose to place it.

Hacking is kicking an adversary intentionally.

Tripping is throwing an adversary by the use of the legs.

Knocking on is when a player strikes or propels the ball with his hands or arms.

Holding includes the obstruction of a player by the hand or any part of the arm extended from the body.

Touch is that part of the field, on either side of the ground, which is beyond the line of flags.

A Free Kick is a kick at the ball in any way the kicker pleases, when it is lying on the ground; none of the kicker's opponents being allowed within six yards of the ball, but in no case can a player be forced to stand behind his own goal-line.

Handling is understood to be playing the ball with the hand or arm.

Notes[edit]

  1. Changes from 1881:
    • Law 4: replace "when the ball passes" with "when the ball has passed". (proposed by N. L. Jackson of Finchley FC; seconded by M. P. Betts of Old Harrovians FC).
    • Law 4: after "not being thrown, knocked on, or carried" insert "by any one of the attacking side. When any player, other than the goal-keeper, wilfully stops a ball in the vicinity of his own goal by using his hands when, in the opinion of the umpires or referee, the ball would have passed through the goal, a goal shall be scored to his opponents. " (proposed by N. L. Jackson of Finchley FC; seconded by M. P. Betts of Old Harrovians FC, as amended).
    • Law 6: replace "unless there are at least three of his opponents" with "unless there are, at such moment of kicking or throwing in, at least three of his opponents" (proposed by A. F. Kinnaird of Old Etonians FC; seconded by N. L. Jackson of Finchley FC).
    • Law 6: replace "but no player is out of play when the ball is kicked from the goal line" with "but no player is out of play when the ball is kicked from the goal line, or when it has last been played by an opponent" (proposed by A. F. Kinnaird of Old Etonians FC; seconded by N. L. Jackson of Finchley FC).
    • Law 11: replace "Rules 6, 8, 9 or 14" with "Rules 5, 6, 8, 9, 12, or 14" (proposed by M. P. Betts of Old Harrovians FC; seconded by C. H. Wollaston of Wanderers FC).
    • Law 13: replace "Rules 6, 8, 9, 10, or 14" with "Rules 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, or 14" (proposed by M. P. Betts of Old Harrovians FC; seconded by C. H. Wollaston of Wanderers FC).
    • Law 13: replace "until the decision of the umpire, on his being appealed to, shall have been given" with "until the decision of the umpires or referee, on being appealed to, shall have been given".
    • Law 16: add new law "The referee shall have power to stop the game in the event of spectators interfering with the play" (proposed by S. R. Bastard of Upton Park FC; seconded by A. F. Kinnaird of Old Etonians FC).
    For more information, see: (Wikisource contributor note)


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.


The author died in 1924, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.